Man Without Qualities

Monday, August 11, 2003

Dwindling, Dwindling, ...

In 2001 both CNN and Fox News held about 600,000 viewers. Last month, Fox News drew 1.3 million viewers while CNN drew about 700,000 viewers. In other words, Fox News is now drawing almost twice as many viewers as CNN - which was for a very long time the leading cable news network.

That development is for some reason not emphasized in this New York Times article - which dryly notes that Fox News is not following the declining trend of other television news outlets.

Perhaps there is some problem with the Times' charts. The article text reads: the average daily audience at Fox News grew to 753,000, compared with 612,000 during last summer's two-month period. But the chart on the right clearly shows 1.3 million viewers for the 2003 period. Similarly, the text reads: CNN's daily audience during June and July was, on average, 413,000 people, down from 502,000 last summer, where the chart shows 900,000 last summer and 700,000 this summer. But, text or chart, Fox News now has almost twice as many viewers as CNN (753,000-Fox v. 413,000-CNN, if one goes by the text).

There's some fatuous speculation in the Times article as to why CNN is dying relatively. But that speculation does not include any consideration of a rather obvious probability: CNN is serving up product to a niche which is already vastly oversupplied by other market players - and a lot of that is the nearly always left-leaning, Democrat-friendly, Republican-hostile, US-critical slant of CNN news coverage.

People like Eric Alterman can rant and rave about different ways "slant" might be measured and deny that the liberal media exists - but Rupert Murdoch is laughing all the way to the bank by filling his distinctive news niche. And it looks like things are just going more and more his way.

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